Where does the time go?

Since my last post, I’ve met a boy, graduated from Optometry school, traveled some more (to Finland, in particular), and moved back to Cambridge/Boston to slowly settle myself in–at least for a little while–with previously mentioned boy.

As far as I have come, I still feel like there is so much to do and to improve on, regarding both my life and myself. I’ve also missed blogging,  as an outlet for my thoughts and to share any neat goings-on in my life. Figured I should get back into sharing things from my life.

So, here’s to a new start.

Days 6-8: Skagen, then to Göteborg by ferry

When I woke up in the morning, Charlotte was still around. I left for København Hovedbanegård before she left for work, so I was able to say good-bye to her before heading out.
Finding a place to sit was a bit frustrating on the train, since I had no clue what car I was supposed to be in. I managed to find a free seat next to a pram blocking at least 4 seats -.-”
The first train took us to Aalborg. From Aalborg, I had to take a bus to Frederikshavn, and then another train to Skagen. For the latter half of my ride to Aalborg, I met a nice old lady knitting a baby blanket for her grandson, who told me about her hometown of Læsø. I’ll have to keep that Island in mind the next time I want to travel around Denmark, lol.

When we hit Aalborg, it started to rain really hard. I was completely soaked even before I got onto the bus for Frederikshavn. I also found out that my REI luggage isn’t exactly rainproof D:

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So much rain D:

I arrived to my hostel around 18.30, and it was still overcast and wet outside. And, I was still damp from the rain. The lady at the front desk nearly gave me a heart attack when she told me there was no available rooms in the hostel. I was adamant that I had paid online already, and she eventually looked at her folder confirm this. I ended up with a 4-person bedroom to myself. The hostel was overrun with 12/13-year-old Danish kids, and I soon found out that I was the only non-Danish tween staying there. I didn’t mind the loudness or any of the chaos that ensued with such a large group of kids, but it was definitely a sight to behold, as kids ran around, some arguing with their chaperones, others hanging out amongst themselves, and some having a sort of dramatic moment and then crying (boys and girls alike, mind you).

After freshening up and getting settled in, I went out for a walk and to find myself some dinner. The sky was starting to clear, though it was still quite cold outside (like 11 C). I meandered a bit, trying to figure out where the downtown area was. Narrowly missed the closing of Netto for the night, and settled on the restaurant, Pakhuset, since it was one of the only places still open.
I don’t know if it was because of how I looked or that I was alone and young, but I got REALLY BAD SERVICE from this restaurant. It took them 15 minute to take my order, and I didn’t get my bill for at least half an hour. No one came to check up on me, only to serve me and take my food away, while all the tables around me were doted on. I was pretty angry by the end of it. It was one of those rare moments where I was happy I didn’t have to tip the servers.
I was proud, though, that I managed to order and do almost everything in Danish.

Afterward, I walked around some more, admiring how, at 21.00, it still looked like it was 18.00 or 19.00.

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It can’t be 21.00, right?

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Right?

I arrived back to my hostel around 22.00

The next day, I managed to wake up and get ready before breakfast ended. It was a madhouse outside, but I ignored the kids because I was too excited at the thought of a Scandinavian breakfast :3
I had toast and crackers with cheese and cold cuts, and müesli with sour fruit-flavored yogurt. I missed this kind of fare.
Also, I noticed that all of the kids had made sandwiches for their trip, and wrapped it in parchment paper. When the kids had left and no one else was looking, I made myself some sandwiches, as well. I noticed that there were extra types of cold cuts and some vegetables put out for these lunch-time sandwiches, much to my excitement :3
I then set out to rent a bike, and ride around town. I visited the Skagen museum, which housed many works by the Skagen artists that gave this town its claim to fame. I really like the style employed by these Skagen artists–I feel that they really do evoke certain emotions through the colors, scene, and technique chosen.

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Afterwards, I biked over to the outdoor history museum, and ate my lunch proudly (no lie, I was proud because I saved myself some money, lol) before going in. Everything was in Danish, but I managed my way through most of it. Most of it was, in my opinion, rather boring, but the highlights included finding mittens and jewelry made out of hair (ew), and observing the shift in fishing techniques via cute little dioramas displayed in one of the exhibition halls.
From the hill of the history museum, I could see the sea, so I was determined to find the coast after I finished touring the museum. I finally found a walking/biking path that was right next to the (rocky) shore. I sat on the rocks and took it all in. The color of the water was gorgeous.

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Water!

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Ew!!!!!

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I picked up some postcards and stamps at the tourist information office (spoke mostly in Danish there, though I had to ask how to say “stamp” in Danish again–proud of myself anyway), and then headed home for a nap.
When I woke up, it was around 19.00, and it still only looked like it was 16.00. I got up, and went to eat at another restaurant where the service was much better.

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Does that look like 19.00 to you?

I biked out to find Grenen, the place where the two bodies of water meet, and I ended up getting very, very, very lost. I was out until 22.00 or so, since it was still light out, but I kept wandering down the stony shore, getting further and further away from my bike. Eventually, I gave up, since I was rather nervous of ending up in the middle of nowhere in the dark.
I realized, later on, where I made the wrong turn and how to fix it, but i decided just to try again the next day.

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Fail. But at least it was pretty!

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Knowing that I had to return my bike by 11.00 and that I had to make it to my 14.00 ferry in Frederikshavn to Göteborg (and Simon!), I got a slightly earlier start. No sandwiches were made today, since there were more people out and about. I biked as quickly as I could to Grenen, and meandered down the coast to the tip of the island to watch the opposing waves crash into each other. Satisfied, I biked back into town quickly to return my rental bike, send out my postcards, and to retrieve my luggage, so I could set out for the train station to Frederikshavn.
I didn’t check the train schedule but I got SO LUCKY, since the train only runs once and hour, and it hadn’t arrived just yet. Had I got there any later, I definitely would have missed my ferry.

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Upon boarding the ferry, I sat for nearly the entire 3.5 hours, and watched the most recent football match between Sweden and France, and an old BBC series, “Desperate Romantics,” the latter of which I will want to finish watching later on.
Though I love boats, time dragged on rather slowly, since I was too excited to see an old friend.

As soon as I got off the ferry, I saw Simon. It was so crazy for me to think that it had been more than 3 years since I last saw him, and that I last couch surfed with him 4 years ago. How lucky am I, that we stayed in touch all this time!

We returned to his place via tram, and watched a grumpy old man say really rude things to a woman who prevented him from sitting down on the tram.
We grabbed a bike from his friend, Ellen, and rode around Göteborg. He got to see how spastic I am on a bike that is too tall for me, but I figured out how to be more graceful on it toward the end. We biked to a lake nearby his place (tough ride uphill), to his old university, and then to grab some dinner at one of his favorite places, the Bishop’s Arms. Only with Simon would I go to a pub.
I had a very traditional Swedish meal of veal with veggies and lingonberry sauce, and a tall beer from a local microbrewery.
We didn’t get home until almost 23.00, since the light threw us off–it was still pretty bright when we arrived home.

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I envy Simon, that he has nature like this so close to his house.

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Day 5: Nørrebro

Charlotte’s kollegium gets free laundry service so I took advantage of that, that morning.

In the afternoon, I met up with Pernille, a Danish girl who studied at UCSD. We ran into each other in the Science and Engineering Library, where I though heard two people speaking Danish behind me. This was the Fall Quarter after I had just gotten back from Copenhagen. Having no shame, I asked them if they were Danish, when they got up to leave. Turned out that the other person was Norwegian. After that, she and I kept in touch and would hang out in San Diego, from time to time. She visited last summer, and now I got to visit her in Copenhagen 🙂

I had her meet me where my old apartment is, Nybrogade, and we ducked into the cafe on the corner because of the rain. I had actually never been in there before, so that was new for me. When the rain died down a bit, we went to eat at Riz Raz, my favorite restaurant, a vegetarian (well, I guess not anymore, since they serve meat now) buffet.

We then walked from the downtown area to Nørrebro, which is where her apartment is. It’s probably the most popular neighborhood for young people to live in. Probably because of the distance and cold, but I didn’t make my way into that neighborhood all that often. I think I missed out. It is a really cool neighborhood. Kind if like North Park or Hillcrest in San Diego.
Her apartment is still quite new and therefore sparsely (and carefully) decorated, mostly with personal pictures and posters. It was still hyggeligt, even as a relatively big apartment for one person.

I walked back and took a couple of pictures when I passed the lakes.

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This one being the nicest one I took.

That night, I watched Denmark play against Germany in the Euro Cup. What a disappointment that they lost.
I then packed and got ready for my trip to Skagen the next day.

Pause

I won’t post on my days until I’ve uploaded pics to go up with the text.
In the meantime, I’ll update to say that I am currently in Mariestad, a small town about 2.5 hours outside of Göteborg (Gothenburg). This is where my friend, Simon, grew up, and he was very kind to invite me to his hometown for midsummer. It’s so lovely here! The town is close to the biggest lake in Europe (the third largest in the world, after 2 lakes in Russia), and like the rest of Sweden, it’s green and gorgeous!
The summer equinox actually happened 2 days ago, but tomorrow is the day that everyone plans to celebrate on.

Here is a video of what Simon said I can expect from tomorrow:

I’ll let you know how close my experience is to the video XD

Day 4: “To Travel is to live”– H.C. Andersen

After having such a late night, I managed to wake up at noon (fail). Given that I had such a late start, I just decided to go to Statens Museum for Kunst, just down the street from the kollegium. I stayed until closing and managed to see almost everything there, and believe me when I say that there is a lot to get through in the two buildings. It’s always fun to watch tourists get scared when the automatic doors open leading to a bridge to the newer building. They shy away, walking in the other direction instead of taking the risk to see what’s on the other side.
I think my favorite painting this time around is of 4 young Norwegians sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake on midsummer evening. It’s quite a big painting, and when I step back to look at it, I get chills, since it looks so real, with the surroundings really showing in the lake’s reflection.
Of note is an exhibit on Danish mentality on various subjects, one of them being on travel. The quote that I got for this entry’s title comes from that exhibit.
Afterwards, I walked through the park with a strong craving for something fresh (I think I’ve been eating too much rugbrød with havarti), so I walked over to one of the many immigrant-owned grocery stores by the lakes. I wish I lived closer to one when I was here, because you really do get a wider variety of produce for cheaper, especially when the owners get to know you–they start giving you discounts all the time.

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View outside some of the windows from the new building at Statens Museum for Kunst.

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The new building, seen from the park.

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Another pond in the park.

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Swan family. Ahhh–swan babies! (ducklings?)
Which reminds me: I saw a male duck chase after 3 different female ducks, who all got away in differs forms (the first waddled away, the second swam away, and the third flew away).

I went back and hung around, unintentionally napping from 6:30 to 8. Grr, jet-lag.

It was a really quiet night–a bit disappointing to me, but I had to remember that we partied until late the night before, and half the kids in the kollegium aren’t done with final exams yet.
I got to talk to Sabrina, though, and I found out that she is a veterinarian major (you can do that here), about to defend her thesis for her bachelors, which is surprising to me, because you only defend for your bachelors if you’re an honors student–at least in my experience.
She talked about politics with me and how many of the Danish ways of thinking and how a lot of the red tape in her country is really stupid, which I agree with, like how many people come in with higher-level degrees (doctors and other professionals), but because they’re foreign, they are resigned to open pizza shops and grocery stores, drive taxis, etc. Sounds familiar, eh? She made a good point that it’s a waste of human resources in the country.
And she, like some of the other Danish students, proceeded to tell me what she finds frustrating about my country and people (Amurrrca, I’m looking at you). I love sharing my viewpoints with international students, and reassuring them that we’re all not super religious, conservative kooks 😀

Day 3: Gik Rundt i Hovedstaten

I had a later start to my day, the jet-lag finally starting to kick in. I spend the first part of my day hanging out and saying good-bye to my new friend, Susan. It’s such a shame that we didn’t get to hang out longer before she left, but it’s time for her to be back home with family and friends 🙂

I bought a sim card at a 7-11, that being a bit confusing for me, since I didn’t know what I need, exactly, and I’m not even sure this phone can be used abroad (though Susan did say it’s so old that it may pre-date phone locking, so it shouldn’t be an issue, lol). But this is one of those awkward interactions I’ve been having on a daily basis. And I want to use my Danish but I don’t want to look like a fool or offend myself. *sigh* I just settled on a 50 kr Lebara card, so we’ll see if if works or not, when I’m in Sweden.

I didn’t have the proper time on me, or so I thought (cell phone asked me to program in a time but it may have switched over automatically after the sim card was activated), and I arrived downtown too early to meet with Charlotte for lunch.
Instead, I walked some familiar streets by Nybrogade, where my old apartment stands. I didn’t get too near; not quite sure why, but I did feel somewhat out of place. Instead, I walked down Gammelstrand, which is going through some construction, replete with ugly scaffolding 😦
I walked to Søstrene Grønne and spent a good amount of time wandering the shop. It’s like a prettier Tiger, both being something akin to dollar stores full of random nicknacks, snacks, and some practical items. I wanted to buy everything I saw, because everything is packaged so nicely. However, my suitcase is still too full with gifts for people, so I settled on some postcards and a piece of Panda raspberry black licorice (yes, I like black licorice).

Walked over to the Christiansborg Slot entrance, not realizing until much later that I was an hour and a half early. I killed time by wandering around, taking pictures at one of the most beautiful places in Copenhagen (the area between the Christiansborg Slot entrance and the Black Diamond library; there’s a small garden and huge fountain with lots of greenery all around; great for a picnic), writing postcards, and talking to strangers 🙂 I had a Brazilian tourist approach me asking me where he was and where he should go. I love being able to help people like that.

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The front of the parliament building at Christiansborg Slot. Kind of confusing to find, if you have not been before. It’s not very obvious, and the map by the outside of the palace is kind of crappy.

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On the way to the garden. Also pretty.

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This picture does not do this place justice.

Finally, it was 14:30, and Charlotte came out to get me. An got a guest pass and then followed her around the building. I felt extra special, since I had already been on a guided tour of the palace–now used as the parliament building–and almost everything she showed me was not included in the tour. I think I did see a paternoster elevator before, but I got to ride it this time! It’s SO cool!!! and kind of scary.
It’s amazing to me how they made such an old building so modern, and everything about it was still beautiful and classic. She showed me the library that the interns use, and, of course, it was gorgeous. The parliament building is connected to some old buildings around it, and it was cool to be in the building where her actual office is, since bits of the old façade peek out from the modern white walls. When we left, we exited out right next to the garden, where we ended up eating lunch. Eating outside is something I don’t do enough of–I know, I live in California and I didn’t take advantage of the good weather.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon running errands and making myself look extra awkward in the process (dug through my bag for 5 minutes looking for my coin purse, only to find it in my cost pocket; my life is full of these moments), but everyone was nice and spoke to me in Danish at first. I even ran into the post lady I interacted with the most 3 years ago. I think she remembered me and I managed to get a smile out of the stern lady. Win 😀

I got home and was quite exhausted, the jet-lag really affecting me by then. I compromised that if I could take a nap for 30 minutes, I would run for just as long. I ended up running for 35 minutes, through the park behind Statens Museum for Kunst, to and around one of the lakes. It felt great.

I came back to shower, and then eat in the kitchen, and ended up staying there until like 3 or 4 in the morning, hanging out and drinking beer with some Danes. Nini introduced a lot of Danish music to me that I’d never heard before (she knows lots of up-and-coming acts), and I got to impress people with a pretty decent knowledge of Danish popular music. They showed me some really terrible stuff, too (Google the band Infernal and listen to “Kalinka”). It was nice to have an evening like this, where we just hung out, and others could come into the kitchen to join us for at least a little bit. One girl, Kamilla, had just come back on holiday from Turkïye, and she told us that she didn’t remember a single thing from her entire week abroad (what a crazy girl). Lucky for me, she was so tired and probably hungover–if not still drunk–that she spoke to me in Danish (“Du forstår mig, og jeg forstår dig, så hvorfor ikke snakker vi på dansk?”).
De alt var så hyggeligt.